Make a list. It's time to go grocery shopping.
Where are we buying? How much do we spend? What do we spend it on? What are we cooking? Are we health-conscious? Diet-conscious? What are our general philosophies about food?
I traveled to six supermarkets in six different neighborhoods and questioned 20-odd local shoppers about their shopping habits. This is what they said.
- Whole Foods, Hillcrest, Monday, 1 p.m.
- Grace Fisher, 30
- Spent $150 today.
- Cooks for two, husband and self.
"This week, I'll cook a couple of chicken dishes and a tenderloin dish. I get my recipes either online or out of Cooking Light magazine.
"I grew up on health food (in Santa Cruz), and I read about the nutritional values in foods pretty closely.
"I don't do coupons, and I only make lists if I'm trying a new recipe.
"I go down every aisle and make sure I don't forget anything.
"We grill a lot. But I have to say that we like variety: chicken, fish, lamb, pork, beef.
"I have a few favorite recipes. I have a stuffed chicken that I like to make. I sauté chicken, mushrooms, and shallots, blend it up in a food processor, and then mix it with fat-free ricotta cheese, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. And then you poke a hole in the chicken breast, stuff all that in there, sauté it in a pan, and then there's a sauce that I put on top of it.
"I cook about four nights a week, and we go out the rest.
"I also shop at Trader Joe's. I come to Whole Foods weekly, every Monday, and I go to Trader Joe's about every other week.
"I buy about 80 percent organic. I try to buy all organic, unless there's just something I need that I can't find."
- Jake Tison, 37
- Banker's Hill
- Video producer
- Shopping with wife Suzanne and daughter Lily.
- Spent $35 today.
- Spends $60 to $80 a week.
"We shop once or twice a week, and at Whole Foods about once a month.
"We also shop at Henry's, Trader Joe's, and at the Hillcrest farmers' market.
"We read vitamin panels and are very health-conscious, because my wife and daughter are vegetarians. I'm a vegetarian at home.
"We use a lot of soy. That's what we were buying here today: a ton of fake meat.
"You can make all sorts of things. Spaghetti sauce, chimichangas; it doesn't matter. Whatever you'd do with meat, you can do with soy.
"Suzanne's a vegetarian for moral reasons, and has been since she was a teenager.
"It's much easier now to be a vegetarian, with all the foods available.
"Our favorite recipes are stir-fries and pastas.
"We like to eat, but we don't like to cook that much. But we eat in almost seven nights a week. We hardly ever go out."
- Tamra Miller
- Mission Hills
- Housewife, singer, and part-time paralegal
- Spent $350 today.
- Spends about $1200 a month on groceries.
- Cooks for a family of four: husband, self, and two kids.
- Cooks dinner about six times a week.
"Today I got ingredients for pea soup, a vegetable stir-fry, and a couple pasta dishes.
"I'm really good at making roast lamb. It's kind of my specialty dish. I baste the lamb leg with olive oil, cinnamon, garlic, lots of fresh herbs, walnuts, soy sauce, and teriyaki, and then I roast it in the oven for a few hours.
"I shop at Whole Foods and OB People's Food. These are gourmet markets that carry specialty items and organic foods. I also go to the farmers' markets. We spend about $300 on food every week.
"If you went through my basket, you'd see mostly whole foods that are outside of a can and outside of a jar. I'm very health-conscious.
"Standing behind these people in line at the checkouts in a lot of supermarkets, I get this impression of 'nothing living.' But I think the idea behind our food should be that it should capture as much of the sun as possible. Instead, most of it is designed for shelf-life instead of nutritive value. That's why I only eat organic. I try to eat something living that can transmute into my life. But most food today -- with preservatives and corn syrups and stuff like that -- is more of a deficit to your body than an enhancement."
- Albertson's, North Park, Monday, 2 p.m.
- Yolanda Martinez
- Golden Hill
- Retired pediatric case manager
- Spent $110 today.
- Cooks for self and husband, also retired.
"I shop big once every two weeks, with small supplemental shopping in between.
"I shop at Albertson's, and Costco as well.
"I cook a lot of things, but my favorite is green chili guacamole enchiladas. I make a sauce out of cream-of-chicken soup and long green California chilis that have been roasted and peeled. Then garlic, salt, pepper, and one or two jalapeños. Then cilantro leaves -- not the stems, just the leaves. And then I put it all in the blender, warm it up, and that's the sauce. The filling is shredded chicken, black olives, green onions, and jack cheese.
"I'm more aware of nutritional panels now, because both my husband and I are diabetic, and we've had to start to pay attention to that. I don't buy all the heavy stuff, like I used to. We eat heavy like that now maybe twice a week. Other times, if we have a good breakfast, then we'll have sandwiches for dinner. Or if we don't have a good breakfast, then we'll go out to dinner or I'll cook a big dinner. Usually, we don't have lunch.
"I lost 22 pounds since retirement by eating lighter and less often. My husband's lost a lot of weight as well.
"We shop together, my husband and I, always. Usually, he'll say not to buy something, but then if I get it, he'll still sit down and eat it. So that's how that goes. I say, 'I don't know why I listen to you. I should just get it anyway.' And then I do, and he usually likes it. So!"